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How to Recognize a Great Manga (In Just 1 Chapter): Act-Age

you cannot recognize a great anime in one episode a great manga
in one chapter, nor a terrible one at that. Why? I’ll be blunt and quick and apply some dialetics There is no good or bad art. Things can only be better or worse than what
you’ve seen before. A distinction without a difference perhaps? But then why do we perceive children’s standards
as being so much lower than our own generally speaking? How did there come to be a distinction between
high and low art? Simple, only the rich got to experience “high”
art regularly, and a child has less to judge a story with. Greatness lies where men believe it resides. It’s a trick of the light, and very tricky
lights can create some very special effects. People who can cause these effects, who can
channel or control the masses perception are called “Experts”. Experts are simply people who have seen so
many ordinary things that the extraordinary stands out. Why do I bring all this up? Well, I would consider myself to be an expert
on shounen. I like ordinary shounen as a baseline, it
doesn’t need to be special to get my attention. So I feel I’m uniquely qualified to say
this: Act-Age is something special. Every big shounen Manga, Game, or Anime has
its own unique special something that puts it over the top. Many series encapsulate this essence in a
thesis statement as it were- a narration on the nature of an occupation for which the
shounen aesthetic will be an expressed part. Given that Act-Age has one of the more impressive
of these, there’s no better place for me to start examining its greatness. So, without further ado, Act-Age Take one ACTION! The first chapter of Act-Age perfectly captures
the role of director, audience, and fans in an actor’s career. That doesn’t sound like much until you consider
actors are this series version of Hunters, Heroes, or Death Reapers. If a shounen series fails to establish the
most important aspects of its worlds occupation you end up with series like fairy tail which
completely contradict the aesthetic it is ribbing. But how does one know if a series is effective
in establishing the rules of the trade and thus providing a path for its themes and plot
to flourish? One of the most important things an author
must consider in these opening narration is if the audience expectations of the occupation
are a help to the series or if they’ll have to be reframed. Ninja’s are almost universally considered
cool so there’s little need for doubling down that point in Naruto, instead, it focuses
on the more unique aspects of these specific in-universe ninjas. In contrast, Act-Age has a completely different
but equally interesting methodology, it uses the tools of the occupation it’s covering
to reframe your expectations. Whether you’re interested in the premise,
skeptical, or indifferent, with the very first line the manga gets you in its pace- “until
the director calls “cut!” The reason directors use the word cut is it disturbs your current mood of thinking. just like an object being severed everyone knows the scene has stopped filming and it also signals to the editor they can cut it as well The physicality of the word is like an attack
without being threatened You become disconnected from your past self
before you started the chapter and now you’re ready to be mentally anchored to the
first piece of information the manga gives you. so as long as the next line is great you have yourself the perfect intro “Just for that short span of time…we live
the lives of others.” This is a great line for multiple reasons. Firstly, it plays up the ideal of actors that
we have in our heads as people who really get to LIVE fantastical lives. Secondly, it establishes what I imagine will
be a big theme going forward- the preciousness of time. Already in our own lives, a good number of
people have plenty of things they may want to experience but may not have the time to
experience them all. For an actor, this type of anxiety is likely
exacerbated ten-fold. So what we have here is stakes and a sense
of adventure, characteristics of any great shounen manga. And as the cherry on top, we also have the
acknowledgment of acting as a “bizarre form of pleasure” which will become extremely
relevant later. If actors are this story’s ninjas or hunters
then, of course, we must remember that those characters are still considered wild and crazy
to an extent in their worlds. Act-Age carries with it a meta understanding
that for actors in our world the situation is much the same. The act of borrowing familiar tropes and modifying
them to become something incredibly familiar, yet fresh and exciting is what it means to
have a good introduction as a Jump manga, and we’re only just getting past the first
page. Enter Main Character
Kei Yonagi The first thing you establish about your main
character is the most important. For Deku from My Hero Academia the first page
he’s introduced in establishes that he is brave, morally upright, and not the strongest. The story then gets to focus on something
that will make you very happy now that you’re attracted to this upright kid- it’ll give
him the strength to stand up for those ideals without hurting himself. Contrast this with some series, and I’m
sure you can of a few, that merely establish that the Main Character is an idiot you should
not take seriously. Even if the story is explicitly about the
character’s transformation from that to a serious badass neither fans nor the author
can complain if it doesn’t sell well, because then the only reason people who care about
the characters more than anything else in a story (which is not a small number of people)
have to continue is if they like watching idiots and/or growth. The point of this comparison isn’t to say
that an introductory or main character needs positive traits to draw readers in, however. Depending on the audience and purpose of the
story plot and themes can be more important than following innately likable or relatable
characters. A character like Kei Yogani is an acquired
taste. Some like me will like her immediately, others
will find her difficult to care about due to how seemingly strange she is. What can be said for certain, however, is
that she’s both extremely interesting and the perfect character for this story and its
themes. The first thing established about Yonagi is
that acting IS her life. The extent of what that means and its implications
for the story are subtle and so that I may cover it all I’m gonna have to talk about
the shonen aesthetic A quick refresher: the shounen aesthetic can
be described as what makes shounen “shounen” outside of its demographics. The five core aspects are the tendency & predisposition
towards optimism, passing of the torch, teaching empathy, the belief in increasing power, and
a pure heart. Now some occupations are inherently more shounen
than others. This is not to say that a person is limited
in just how shounen they can be, just that certain paths in life lend themselves more
to the aesthetic than others, as the ideals of the occupation are more in line with shounen’s
core principles. In the past actors were looked down on as
little more than prostitutes. They certainly wouldn’t even have a chance
to make the millions they could now. But realistically their job is still just
as precarious and looked down on, it’s just in the age of mass-everything they can make
up for it if they become one of the elites who make their way to the top. This is all to say that with the invention
of recording devices and vast audiences acting has evolved to become a very shounen occupation
You need optimism, gratitude to past actors and the people who got you there despite the
odds, you literally NEED to teach and invoke empathy in the audience, and you come to understand
the nature of power politics as well as your newfound ability to empower millions. and assuming you aren’t a hack actor who got there through nepotism you would need a pure heart and the ability to forge this singular path Given Yonagi’s extreme dedication to acting,
one can also consider her an extremely shounen protagonist in the same vein as a Naruto or
Luffy, in her own unique way. In fact, the only thing that makes her question
her dream is her promise to take care of her family, which is also in line with the aesthetic. And speaking of her extreme dedication to
acting, her method acting antics & how she’s referred to as “a genuine article” is
very reminiscent of the Buddhist Aesthetic of art creation as well. Roger J. Davies in the book “Japanese Culture-
The Religious and Philosophical Foundations” notes this about the Buddhist Doctrine: ” As
a religious belief system, it discourages both philosophical theorizing and metaphysical
speculation: truth lies beyond rational analysis and can be understood only by someone who
has walked on the path and reported what he has seen (i.e., a Buddha).” As a result, the general Buddhist tradition
of artistic creation can be said to be a focus on emptying out unnecessary thoughts that
come from an outside culture or otherwise over-complicate the process and instead the
emphasis is placed on expressing what comes to you right away in the present moment without
hesitation. The first piece of information we get from
an actual character in the series is their mocking of the fakeness of some actors in
front of him. He calls them robot-like, merely acting out
what they think is expected of them. This is immediately contrasted with Yonagi
who truly invokes sadness through her method acting. While method acting isn’t explicitly Buddhist
in origin it nonetheless reflects the same mindset of truth only being understood by
those who have walked the path and only being expressible by those who report what they
have seen. I think most can relate to seeing sadness
in media and thinking at some point “yeah this is really artificial”, especially if
you’ve ever been really sad in recent memory. Depending on your emotional intelligence you
can kind of see it in others even if they try to hide it from you. The way Act-Age taps into that sentiment with
not just tips for how actors get picked but also showing what someone who’s genuinely
sad most likely would look like was a masterstroke and only possible because it has the perfect
main character for its story in Yonagi Kei. It’s good enough that we have a caring loveable
& funny female MC in a Jump manga, which historically has been rare though that has been changing
with newer Jump titles like The Promised Neverland, but we also get additional greatness to admire
in a main character who through her abnormally calls into question the un-shounen robot nature
of the rest of society. Rules of the Trade In his seminal work “Shounen Jump Rules”
Digibro explains that you can expect any good shounen jump manga to be filled with lots
of weird strange rules which define the story. Each arc, and typically the story as a whole,
will have an authority figure detailing at length the rules of the scenario to the characters
and/or the audience. Whether it is a narrator or in-universe character
shounen manga is often defined by these rules. As they’re explained and enacted dramatic
stakes are created and we the audience can get further invested in the plot and character
plights. As long as the rules are understood even children
can grasp the winners and losers This is why the best of the best, the true
masterpieces, not only explore the rules as far as possible but explain them to the audience
in a way that’s natural and seamless with the plot. Such is the case with the inner thoughts of
the director in Act-Age. Of course, he’d be thinking about what disqualifies
an actor when he’s part of the people in charge of auditions, and through him, we understand
the basics of what an actor SHOULD do, even if we’ve never looked into it before. Things like Having your face match your body
or not covering your face unnecessarily may seem obvious once you have them explained
to you but don’t actually come naturally. It’s established in the first chapter that
an actor being caused unhappiness in life due to acting will be considered a failed
state in this series. Knowing this provides us the perfect format
for examining reasons why an actor chooses their path. Whether it thrills some can only find in that
world, remembering themselves and finding their focus, the connection between director
vision and the actor as a vessel, or just appeasing fans and family, there are many
ways people achieve happiness through acting. All these things are demonstrated via Yonagi’s
audition, yet she is still rejected. However, the director- – decides to work
with her to prove the validity of their mindset to the world. Watching these 2 new partners in crime take
on the establishment of the acting world is a rebellion rife with the potential to demonstrate
some game-breaking rule-bending, the type of stuff Shounen Jump was made for. Act-Age sprouts a very similar message to
my favorite video game of all time, Persona 5: If you want to change the world all you
have to do is look it differently. Where Persona 5 applies this societally this
first chapter of Act-Age goes personal and says “Reality (our perception of it) isn’t
fixed, isn’t that strangely awesome?!” It’s a message I can get behind because
I agree- Life is Epic. The treachery of images is also an opportunity. One need only reset their emotions and remember
things again. I think what draws me to the series most is
its pure-heartedness, even if you can’t relate to the financial struggles of the MC,
even if the art style isn’t your thing, even if the idea of following a manga about
acting doesn’t appeal to you at all most of us can relate to ideas of the best ways
to express ourselves or struggling to choose between responsibility and our hearts desire,
and many are blessed with people they want to protect in their own way. Acting today has changed a lot from how it
was in the past, but it’s also in a sense more of the same. We still have scandals, tragedies, and outrage,
now at a wider scale. But we also live in an age where acting means
you can bring smiles to sick children more than ever before, run charities more than
ever before, and inspire more than ever before. Today it is technically possible for anyone
to pick up a camera and become a star, but even more apparent to me is the interconnectedness
of us all that’s apparent. No man is an island and art is fundamentally
a team effort. Helping people see the Truth and find liberation
for themselves, that’s what it means to live in this Act-Age. Well apparently according to tazerlad its
pronounce act-age, as in montage. So yeah if you want more act-age content,
Tazerlad also made a video you should check out, but make sure you subscribe to this channel. I’m actually recording this part after I did
some editing and let me tell you I had to relearn everything from scratch on how to
edit manga, and it is way more work intensive than anything else. Thanks to Pause and Select who has a side
channel on how to edit manga, very useful resource. Our patrons are the people who make experimental
videos like this possible, so I’ll do something unusual and give them all a shutout Thank you all so much for your contributions,
HunterxHunter2011DRA I’m sure is very grateful. He reminds me way too much of Yonagi. So to close follow your heart, make something,
and express yourself. I’ll see you soon with another video…

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15 thoughts on “How to Recognize a Great Manga (In Just 1 Chapter): Act-Age

  1. I'm very proud of this video with it being the very first time I edited manga. If you'd like to see more Act Age content please give this comment and video a thumbs up!

  2. This some BIG BRAIN stuff.

    Lol joking aside I agree; Life is pretty epic. Told HxH2011, you have a solid understanding of shonen elements. There are a couple of things that I’m curious about how you feel about, on what you touched on the beginning but that’s something we would have to discuss over twitter or discord. Anyways this was really nice of you to take the time and make, looking forward to more content.

  3. Act-age is one of the best new gen manga from Weekly Shonen Jump. Female MC who isn't sexualized in the story, great construction and explanation of acting industry, also gorgeus artstyle from 21 years old female mangaka. Definitely Kyoto Animation or Shaft material if there is anime in the future.

  4. I really wonder how your opinion might change once you read more of it
    Especially first major stage play
    Right now Yonagi doesn't have much personality since its first chapter
    But she becomes better and meets many characters that are sometimes even cooler than her.

  5. Fun fact the author liked one of my tweets so my expert status is even more confirmed~

  6. I'm glad to see someone else who knew it was clear within the first page that there was such a prevalent air of something MORE being presented to us within even the first page. We are looking at something master class here and I am excited to see how every character will grow.

    You don't see excellence like this often. Good breakdown.

  7. Hii!! There’s an act age amino if you’re interested in joining. It’s fairly new and we’d definitely like more people ^_^

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